Minister Zac Goldsmith has said proposals to increase the age of imported pups to six months were “compelling” in a massive boost to the Mirror’s Ban Puppy Imports campaign.
Lord Goldsmith told the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Commons Select Committee that he was “looking very, very seriously” at the plans which would clamp down on young pups being imported into the UK from cruel overseas puppy farms.
He said: “The arguments that have been put forward are very compelling, there is no doubt. By moving to a six-month limit there is no doubt that there would be problems solved or at least it would be easier to solve these problems. We are looking very, very seriously at this. I can’t make a commitment here, but this is an area that we are taking very seriously. The arguments are compelling. I will keep an open mind as to the arguments against, but this is something where I hope we can find some sort of solution.”
By increasing the age of imported pups to six months, this will allow essential blood tests to take place to help confirm any serious diseases that can be passed from dogs to other animals, as well as to humans – known as zoonoses – aren’t present, as well as tie in with the maximum incubation period for rabies infection being exceeded.
Importantly, our Ban Puppy Imports campaign would also make new laws much easier to enforce because a six-month-old puppy’s permanent teeth would be clearly identifiable at post-Brexit visual border checks from January 1st, which would be impossible to forge, unlike documents, passports, and other official paperwork.
Furthermore, older puppies would be much more robust to withstand these long journeys, and therefore make much healthier, longer-lasting pets when they arrive here in the UK.
Paula Boyden, Veterinary Director of Dogs Trust, who was giving evidence to the Committee, is also calling for imported pups to be at least six months old.
And she urged MPs to seize the moment in the wake of Brexit, which will allow the UK to make up their own rules as to how old the pups can be before they’re allowed into the country.
Ms Boyden said: “Suddenly this really does become within our grasp because this EU legislation becomes UK legislation. What we would really like to see is an increase of the minimum age of entry into the UK.”
Penrith MP Neil Hudson, who is also a vet, said we could be a “Beacon for the rest of the world” in making our own rules, adding: “We could indirectly improve human health as well.”
It comes as The Mirror told yesterday how Brits and their pets are at risk of rabies and other fatal diseases.
TV vet Marc Abraham, who is spearheading the Ban Puppy Imports campaign, said in written evidence submitted to MPs on the EFRA Committee, that puppies being bred abroad are currently only being vaccinated “once if at all” against rabies, “giving rise to huge, potentially fatal health risks to humans, dogs, and other animals in the destination country of the UK.”
He says there are also a “significant number of other serious and potentially fatal disease risks from imported young puppies too, such as Brucellosis, Leishmaniasis, Distemper, as well as tick-borne diseases Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, and the tapeworm-transmitted Echinococcus (also fatal to humans), that are also not just capable of infecting our pet dog population, but also pose serious, life-threatening risks to our human public health as well.”
On watching the Inquiry Marc commented: “I’m very encouraged by the tone and response from the Minister regarding increasing the minimum import age of pups to six months in order to protect both animal and human health in the UK. Lord Goldsmith was clearly unable to give his Government’s full commitment to this new legislative proposal in the Inquiry, but his response was positive and very welcomed, and I look forward to engaging in further discussions with the Minister and his colleagues to help finally get this crucial improvement to existing legislation over the line.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank The Mirror and its readers for their phenomenal support of the Ban Puppy Imports campaign, especially for signing and sharing the e-petition”.
The call to increase the age imported pups to six months is also supported by the British Veterinary Association too, whose evidence was also heard by the Committee yesterday.